Bill Burt, the executive sports editor of Eagle Tribune Publishing, is all up in arms about some comments Michael Wilbon made about Boston. Wilbon appeared on the Dan Patrick show last Thursday. Among other things, Wilbon said that Black American NBA players do not want to play in the NBA because of Boston's racist history. Burt did not take too kindly to Wilbon's opinion.
Wilbon, apparently hurting for the pithy/comedic comments he is noted for on his "PTI" program, pulled an Al Campanis and lost his mind (at least I hope he did).
You remember Campanis. He was the Los Angeles Dodgers general manager who lost his job after implying blacks weren't qualified, mentally, to be executives in baseball.
Wilbon's version is equally of the Cro-Magnon version. He said that "racism" in Boston is the reason, at least he said so much when he wasn't fumbling his words. It was the strangest interview I've ever heard about "race" in Boston.
Comparing Michael Wilbon to Al Campanis is hysterical. However, Burt felt offended by several arguments made by Wilbon.
Michael Wilbon distinguished the willingness of Black Hispanics like David Ortiz to play in Boston stating that, "Dominican players don't know the history of Boston."
Michael said that when Doc Rivers took the head coaching job of the Celtics, he asked him, "Why?" Although Rivers ultimately accepted the position, Rivers knew that Wilbon was asking the question because of Boston's racist history.
Wilbon also said that Kevin Garnett said he was not going to play for the Celtics because of racism in Boston.
Additionally, Wilbon said that Boston Garden is the only place where he's been confronted several times and called, "nigger". In response to Wilbon, Burt writes, "Is he serious? When did this happen? Did he report this to his editors? Did he call security in the Garden? Does anybody believe this?" Because, of course, a swift response from security will diminish the hurt of being called a "nigger" to your face.
Wilbon and Dan discussed whether there were any beloved Black athletes in Boston since Bill Russell. They couldn't think of any they considered "beloved." Burt remembered Mo Vaughn, but some of the other possibilities like Jim Rice and Robert Parrish are borderline. Wilbon and Dan also discussed that no top notch Black NBA player has voluntarily chosen to play in Boston since the Bill Russell era. Wilbon pointed out that every single one has come via trade or draft.
Burt is not ignorant about Wilbon's concerns, but is clearly defensive about Boston's racial history. Besidess having the audacity to question Wilbon's veracity about being called a "nigger", Burt refuses to walk in Wilbon's shoes when considering his statements. Consequently, Burt's article comes of as no less hysterical and uninformed as Burt is accusing Wilbon to be.
To me, Wilbon was very clear in explaining himself on the radio. But much like Doc Rivers, I knew what he was talking about before he went into detail. Michael did say that the people who called him out of his name weren't necessarily representative of all of Boston and that maybe Boston is a friendly place for Blacks now, but it has a negative history that Black people know about that cause them to avoid the city.
And that sentiment is absolutely true. I've never lived in Boston, but it does have a wicked bad reputation. It may be myth, but it still persists. And this is despite Boston producing such great moments in Black history like Bill Russell, Mo Vaughn or even New Edition.
Still, Burt is undeterred in his annoyance for Wilbon's characterizations.
Simply put, Wilbon is a jerk. He made some egregious claims, but nobody knows if they are true. Heck, I'm not sure if he was talking about 15 or 20 years ago or if he was talking about last year. Was he called the "N-word?" Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn't. I don't know. If it was "nincompoop," though, I might believe him.
With such sentiments, how could Michael Wilbon possibly think Boston is a hostile place for Black people? Bill Burt is so ironic.